Category: New Releases

96 Souls Has 0 Identities

Overview: After gaining the power to see smells following a lab accident, a professor fights to keep his discovery out of the wrong hands. Gravitas Ventures; 2017; Not Rated; 112 minutes. Premiering Tonight at 8/7 Central: Stanley Jacobs’ 96 Souls missed its true calling as an entertaining yet slightly campy kid’s movie. It features the kind of set-up seemingly ripped straight from Nickelodeon or Disney Channel original movies from the late ’90s to the early ’00s: following a lab accident, professor Jack Sutree (Grinnell Morris) accidentally gains the ability to see smells. Eventually his super-sight increases in power to the...

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‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ is Soul Food for the Artist

Originally published on April 10. Overview: The Art Life gives a glimpse into the artwork and early life of artist and filmmaker David Lynch. Janus Films; 2016; Not Rated; 90 minutes. The Mystery: Historically, David Lynch has let his work speak for itself. He has little interest in explaining symbolism and meaning and remains a somewhat private man. In David Lynch: The Art Life, directors Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes capture a humble shot of him from an angle previously unseen, a look into Lynch’s young life and his artistic process. Seasoned people-watchers rejoice, we are spoiled with shots of...

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‘Side A Side B’ Explores a Collapsing Relationship Through Music

Overview: A young Indian couple work out the frayed ends of their deteriorating relationship while on a 44 hour train ride in this unconventional indie musical. 2017; Not Rated; 78 minutes. Lemonade or Chai?: In Sudhish Kamath’s Side A Side B we see a curious variation of the recent movement in African-American culture to blur the line between music, music videos, and cinema. Although Michael Jackson may have popularized this blurring through extended music videos with self-contained stories which transitioned in and out of choreographed song-and-dance segments, this nascent art form reached a recent apex with Beyoncé’s 2016 “visual...

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‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’: Confounding, Troubling, and Yes, You Should Watch

Overview: Gypsy Blancharde was a lifelong victim of her mother Deedee’s Munchausen by proxy syndrome, until she and a boyfriend decided to take matters into their own hands. HBO; 2017; Not Rated; 82 minutes. Both Kinds, Southern and Gothic: When I was a kid, I had a friend whose parents were, uh, free-spirited. I loved spending time at their house, feeling liberated by the lack of rules and parental concern. It was fun, until it wasn’t. Usually the “until” was her parents drunkenly fighting, though memorably it was once her dad speeding down the highway while we lie, bracing...

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‘Alien: Covenant’ Brings Death to Life

Overview: The crew of the Covenant, a colonist ship bound for a distant planet, intercepts a message that leads them to an uncharted planet and home to a familiar threat. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated R; 124 minutes. Covenant: There are two essential films to watch before seeing Alien: Covenant. One is the 2012 film Prometheus and the other is the 1979 film Alien. One is a predecessor to Covenant and the other is what Covenant’s story is supposedly leading up to. Both are directed by Ridley Scott. While there are other Alien films, these are the two to...

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‘Hounds of Love’ Is Hard To Watch But Impossible To Look Away From

Overview: A murderous couple abduct a troubled teen who has only two choices: escape or die. Gunpowder & Sky; 2017; Not Rated; 108 minutes. Hot Hot Hell: There’s something about Australian crime dramas that makes them seem even more brutal than the average fare. Perhaps it’s the apparent stifling temperature adding a sheen of sweat to the anger, like viewing the film through mirage from the heat rising from the pavement. Hounds of Love is one such film whose violent content is only exacerbated by its location: Perth, 1987. It’s Christmas, only it doesn’t really feel like Christmas. Evelyn...

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‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is Anything But a Generic Rehash

Overview: Denied his birthright and raised on the streets, Arthur’s road to claiming the crown entails far more than pulling sword from stone. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 126 minutes. You Haven’t Seen This One Before: In the film’s opening moments, giant elephantine creatures with elaborately constructed warships attached to their backs approach Camelot. Arrows are slung, swords clash, and as a wizard in an antlered crown looks down at the destruction he’s carved, Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) breaks from the ramparts to put an end to this war between man and mage. The stories of King Arthur,...

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Is A Heartfelt Embrace of the Weird

Overview: The cosmic adventures of the mismatched team continue as Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) uncovers the secrets of his true parentage, bringing him into contact with his father (Kurt Russell). Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 136 minutes. Band of Outsiders: Ayesha, High Priestess of The Sovereign sits on an opulent throne, boasting of the perfect evolutionary state reached by her species. The Sovereign are covered in gold, from their clothing and skin all the way down to their eyes. In sharp contrast to the supercilious society and their conceited leader stands the Guardians of the Galaxy,...

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‘Sleight’ Is More Slow-Burn Drama Than Explosive Thriller

Overview: Weighed down by financial burdens, 20-something street magician Bo turns to drug dealing to make ends meet. When dealing gets more dangerous than expected, Bo is forced to take matters into his own hands. BH Tilt; 2017; Rated R; 90 minutes. Not Just Another Superhero Movie: If viewers go into Sleight expecting a familiar superhero story, they will be disappointed. This isn’t a big dramatic movie. It’s a low-budget, quiet story shot realistically on the dirty streets of LA. Even Angelo (Dulé Hill), the drug lord Bo (Jacob Latimore) works for, isn’t the terrifying out-of-control caricature one expects. He’s deceptively kind and charming, inspiring Bo’s little sister...

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‘Unforgettable’ is a Flawed Movie Destined to be More Hated for Being Honest About Itself

Overview: A divorcee (Katherine Heigl) gives her ex-husband’s new girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) the worst welcome to the neighborhood of all time. Warner Bros.; 2017; Rated R; 100 minutes. Is Katherine Heigl Our Joan Crawford?: Watching Unforgettable in a half-empty small theater, I thought to myself, “poor Katherine Heigl.” Her show Doubt was canned after just two episodes this February. Her attempts at big screen comebacks have led her to winning the Razzie for Worst Actress. Now, with the erotic thriller Unforgettable set to bomb in its competition against the eighth installment of ultra dudebro action franchise F8 of the Furious,...

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‘A Dark Song’ Sings with Brightly Burning Promise

Overview: A grieving mother seeks the help of an occultist to contact her dead son. IFC Films; 2017; Not Rated; 100 Minutes. Truth: Last year, I was blown away by Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, a horror mystery that succeeded in being affecting, thrilling and surprising by telling the 100% truth from start to finish. It’s a strange formula for any film looking to establish tension and unnerving control over its audience, and it’s hard to think of any comparative examples of films which presented multiple situational possibilities and then delivered on all of them. Now, we have another....

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‘A Thousand Junkies’ Balances Lunacy & Pathos

Overview: Three heroin junkies embark on a increasingly ludicrous and dangerous search for a fix in Los Angeles. Falco Ink; 2017; Not Rated; 75 minutes. Just One Fix: Tommy’s done the math. He estimates that if he’s spent about three hours a day waiting for his dealer, that adds up to about 50 days a year of nothing but waiting. Multiply that by 19 years and you have 950 days. That’s almost three years of the prime of his life wasted “waiting to get well.” Not that he misses it much. For a junkie who needs a fix –...

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‘Gifted’ Boasts a Great Cast, But Doesn’t Pass the Test

Overview: A man grapples with the difficult process of raising his highly intelligent niece. 2017; Fox Searchlight Pictures; PG-13; 101 minutes. Uneven Emotionality: Gifted, the story of an uncle raising his prodigy of a niece, has all of the ingredients of a crowd-pleaser designed to pull at the heartstrings of the audience. Included in these ingredients is a precocious child prodigy, and numerous courtroom scenes that will determine whether her uncle should be her legal guardian. The aforementioned child, Mary Adler (McKenna Grace), is presented unevenly. One example of this is the constantly changing maturity level of the character...

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‘The Fate of the Furious’ Struggles To Keep The Franchise On Track

Overview: A mysterious cyber-terrorist convinces Dom Toretto to turn against his family and aid in her sinister plot. Universal Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 136 minutes. Neutral: The Fast and Furious franchise is getting a little long in the tooth. Now at eight entries, it’s one of the longest-running Hollywood franchises without reboots, remakes, or long breaks between releases. It’s not adapting any pre-existing material, either, and how could it be? These stories can only be told through cinema. The series’ best films revel in that fact, at times seeming to stress the limits of the frame, as if there’s...

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‘Fraud’ Is Either an Incomparable, Impossible Artistic Feat or a Brilliant Con Job

Overview: Home video footage captures a family dealing with mounting debt, burning their house down in an act of insurance fraud, and fleeing to Canada. Memory/Rough House/Grasshopper Film; 2016; 52 minutes. I Give Up: Fraud is an impossible film. It is impossible to succinctly and fairly explain Fraud without doubling back and looping your description and complaints and praises into a knot of self-entrapment. It is impossible to assign a singular reading to Fraud without feeling as though you have sold short another important rich layer of the film. It is impossible to compare Fraud to any other film....

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